A promising start to a new series bolstered by engaging characters and an intriguing premise.



Two close friends discover they share surprising abilities and an unexpected connection in this YA SF thriller.

On the surface, Cooper Callister and Coupe Daschelete of Riding, Vermont, could not be any more different. Cooper was raised on a farm by his loving parents, Evelyn and Everett. Coupe lives with his single mother, Mary, and her boyfriend, Mark, and suffered horrific abuse at the hands of a local priest. Despite these distinctions, Cooper and Coupe develop an unbreakable bond and discover they have unique abilities. Cooper is physically strong and can get inside people’s heads while Coupe has extraordinarily keen senses. One day, the local police chief discovers surveillance photographs of a boy who resembles Coupe. The unidentified boy is a suspect in a series of disappearances but Coupe was nowhere near the crime scenes. Then Cooper and Coupe are abducted and taken to Deep Woods Academy in Maine. To their surprise, they learn they were created by geneticist Dr. Steven Stein as part of a project to make “better” humans. Stein calls the two boys and their siblings the Omicron Six. The geneticist is pleased with the project; but someone wants to put an end to his work and the threat may be closer than Cooper and Coupe realize. Wright’s series opener offers dynamic protagonists and supporting characters and fast-paced suspense. Cooper and Coupe are effective and likable heroes whose friendship and quest to figure out how they differ from their peers anchor the story. Some of the novel’s strongest moments focus on the boys’ connection and the positive effect it has on them, particularly Coupe, who finds a stable and supportive home with Cooper and his parents. The well-rounded supporting cast is led by Stein and three members of the Omicron Six, Cotovatre, Corwin, and Chase. The briskly paced narrative moves from bucolic Vermont to the woods of Maine as Cooper and Coupe discover more about the role the mysterious Stein plays in their lives.

A promising start to a new series bolstered by engaging characters and an intriguing premise.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-67682-496-1

Page Count: 390

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2020

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.


From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the...


From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Children of Blood and Bone (2018), Zélie and company are back, and the future of Orïsha hangs in the balance.

Zélie, now a maji Reaper, has achieved her goal and brought magic back to Orïsha, but at great cost. Grief and loss are strong themes throughout the book, compounded by guilt for Zélie, who feels responsible for her father’s death. Zélie and her older brother, Tzain, try to help Princess Amari ascend the throne, believing her family dead—but Queen Nehanda, Amari’s mother, is very much alive and more formidable than they could imagine. The trio join the Iyika, a band of rebel maji working to protect their persecuted people from threats new and old. Though the characters’ trauma reads as real and understandable, their decisions don’t always feel sensible or logical, often stemming from a lack of communication or forethought, which may leave readers frustrated. Though still commendable for its detailed worldbuilding, with an ending compelling enough to keep fans interested in the next installment, much of the book feels like navigating minefields of characters’ ill-advised decisions. All characters are black except for a secondary character with silky black hair, tan skin, and gray eyes “like teardrops.”

Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the first. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17099-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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